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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Maxfield Sports Complex - Upper Valley Nighthawks

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

Byrne Field at Maxfield Sports Complex

120 Lesle Dr.

White River Junction, VT 05001

Year Opened: 2016

Capacity: 1,500

Nighthawks of the Upper Valley

The Upper Valley Nighthawks are the newest team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, one of the premier summer leagues in the country. Run by former Laconia Muskrats General Manager Noah Crane, the team plays their games at Byrne Field at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vermont.

The Maxfield Sports Complex is a community recreation center containing regulation baseball and softball fields, four little league fields, a multi-purpose baseball/softball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, a walking/jogging trail and several multi-purpose fields.

The baseball field at Maxfield Sports Complex is named for Jack and Dorothy Byrne, local residents and philanthropists who have donated millions of dollars to agencies throughout the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Food and Beverage 2

There is no permanent concession stand at Maxfield Sports Complex. For Nighthawk games, some local food trucks are brought in to feed hungry baseball fans.

Local favorite Wicked Awesome BBQ is the centerpiece here, offering pulled chicken and pork sandwiches along with sausage and pepper sandwiches. The sandwiches are very popular, selling out on the night this writer visited. If BBQ doesn’t do it for you, there is a hot dog cart here selling Kayam franks, and a snack cart selling cotton candy and kettle corn flavored with local maple syrup.

Cans of Coca-Cola products along with bottled water and Gatorade are sold here. A popular item with the younger fans was the chocolate milk sold at the popcorn stand. There are no alcoholic beverages sold at Maxfield Sports Complex.

Atmosphere 3

Veteran fans of the NECBL will find the game night atmosphere in the Upper Valley very familiar. It’s a low-key, laid-back atmosphere, with the game serving as the center of all attention. Much of the extraneous noise found at minor league ballparks is missing here.

For the Nighthawks’ arrival in 2016, many improvements were made to the facility, including lights, bleacher seating and a pressbox. Most fans will seek out the bleachers behind home plate, with many fans choosing the unobstructed views further down the right field line.

The team does hold some between innings contests for the younger fans, including the very popular race against the mascot. The team also holds a nightly 50/50 raffle, proceeds from which go towards the operation of the team.

Neighborhood 2

Maxfield Sports Complex is located on Route 5, just two miles from the intersection of Interstates 89 and 91 and downtown White River Junction.

As you might expect at the junction of two interstates, there are several hotels in this area. There are several places to eat in the area, both in White River Junction and across the Connecticut River in Hanover, New Hampshire. Many visitors to the area choose to head a little further north to Dartmouth College, where the downtown area of Hanover has numerous fine dining options.

Fans 3

The Nighthawks are averaging just under 400 fans per game in their inaugural season in the Upper Valley, good for the middle of the pack in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

As is the case in most summer leagues, the crowd at a Nighthawks game is mostly made up of locals, many of whom have a strong rooting interest due to their connection with the team. It’s not unusual to find yourself sitting next to a house parent or team sponsor.

Access 3

Maxfield Sports Complex is located in the small town of Hartford, Vermont. Hartford is located in the Upper Valley region of New England, at the junction of the White and Connecticut Rivers. Interstates 89 and 91 meet here, and the sports complex is just a couple of miles from I-91.

There is parking at the complex for 215 cars in either of two lots. One lot is located near the entrance, with the larger lot located a short walk from Byrne Field. Beware the spots right near the field, as they are prime foul ball (and smashed windshield) territory. The grounds are nicely manicured, with paved sidewalks accessing the areas between the various fields.

Seating at Byrne Field is in the form of several differently shaped metal bleachers scattered around the ball field. There is room for fans to bring their own chairs to set up and watch the action, and fans can circle the entire field if they desire. There is plenty of room for children to roam and chase foul balls. With another field located adjacent to Byrne Field, many children choose to organize their own game here rather than watch the big boys play.

There is a small building next to the field containing a pair of new, clean restrooms.

Return on Investment 3

Admission to a Nighthawks game costs five dollars, with free parking in either of the two lots near the field. With reasonable food prices, a night at Maxfield Sports Complex will definitely not break the bank.

Extras 2

On the night this writer visited White River Junction, there was a live band set up next to the field that played in between some innings. I am not sure if this is a common occurrence at Nighthawks games, but it’s definitely worth an extra point. It’s something a lot of teams should consider doing rather than the same old piped-in music.

An extra point for the lovely Green Mountain backdrop to the ballpark.

Final Thoughts

Veteran fans of the NECBL will find Maxfield Sports Complex a very comfortable, familiar place to watch some quality baseball. With the Green Mountains providing a picturesque backdrop, it’s a great place to spend a summer evening. Just hope that the wind is not blowing in from the sheep farm next door…

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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